IT has been one of the more fascinating personal duels played out in the Saints team this season. And so far there is no obvious winner in the Nathaniel Clyne v Calum Chambers battle to establish themselves as Saints’ first choice right back.
Teen starlet Chambers has started 15 league games and Clyne 14. Recently, however, 19-year-old Chambers had become Mauricio Pochettino’s favoured option. Clyne, though, was given the nod for last Saturday’s 1-0 win against his former club Crystal Palace, turning in a solid performance at Selhurst Park.
The game marked only a third league start for the 22-year-old since suffering an injury against Aston Villa in early December.
The Echo’s own statistical research shows the two players can hardly be separated.
Clyne is a clear winner on two counts, though.
He has provided four assists for goals this term, while Chambers has yet to provide any.
Clyne’s crossing accuracy is also far better – making 12 of 44 crosses compared to Chambers’ 13 out of 71 efforts.
For his part, Clyne is hoping he can now regain control of the right-back position.
Having last season been the undisputed holder of the job, a significant challenge is being posed by Chambers.
Clyne said: “I was on a good run of form, I was playing really well.
“I was at the peak of my game, and, all of a sudden, I got an injury and then I fell out of the squad.”
Chambers, who had also started the campaign in the team following an injury to Clyne in pre-season, grabbed his opportunity.
“He took his chance when I was out injured and I’ve found it difficult to get back into the squad, because he’s been playing so well, but I got my chance and hopefully I can push on and stay in the side,” Clyne added.
Both Clyne and Chambers have been mentioned as possible England material, with each of them having represented their country extensively at youth level.
Yet there is only one spot available in their club side and, long-term, it will be intriguing to see who wins out.
Clyne insists, however, that the competition should be welcomed and that having such depth encourages the players to keep improving their game.
“Definitely, we’ve got a good squad,” he said. “There’s competition around the pitch and it makes us play better and encourages us to play better and improve.”